By virtualizing many of the key production tools and systems required to produce and distribute content, cloud-based production has emerged as a technology and service combination whose time has come. It’s already clear that the cost-effectiveness, flexibility, efficiency and speed of cloud-based TV productions are now a force in the growth and development of media companies and the programs they produce.
Seemingly every day we hear of a new live event that has taken advantage of the automation and scalability that virtualized cloud native technologies offer.
Almost all aspects of live production workflow, from editing and graphics creation to communications and talk-back, can be handled using virtualized systems running on COTS servers that provide flexible, scalable compute resource. Those resources can be deployed as a 'private cloud' or leverage the almost limitless scalability of the public cloud. Onward distribution via OTT services or private fiber network ensures livestreams can reach viewers globally. Additional functionality includes support for sports data feeds, contribution connectivity, contribution encoding equipment, program distribution and production staffing. Cloud production crucially facilitates a centralization of human resources to reduce the cost of travel and logistics.
Cloud-Native Apps Are All The Rage
At the 2023 NAB Show, many vendors will spotlight some type of cloud-based technology, built to fit seamlessly into all types of production workflows. Cloud-native apps are designed and built to exploit the scale, elasticity, resiliency, and flexibility the approach provides.
“Although remote work became more of a necessity during the Covid pandemic, the new normal seems here to stay,” said Carol Bettencourt, vice president of Marketing at Chyron. “Broadcast designers and production crews have adapted and now many prefer to work from home. At Chyron, we find that each customer’s challenges are different, so we try to offer a wide range of options from on premise hardware installations to virtual machines to cloud implementations.”
Visitors to Chyron’s NAB booth (N2647) will see new updates to its Chyron LIVE, a cloud native all-in-one graphics, switching and illustrated replay platform that now includes a commentator mode, enhanced audio controls, improved configuration, a built-in graphics package and the brand new MatchPad, a special streamlined and sport-specific implementation for soccer.
Besides offering greater flexibility in the physical location of the production crew, cloud native toolsets such as Chyron LIVE also offer scalability.
Chyron LIVE is offered in an Amazon Cloud environment with an integrated set of tools for applying live graphics, switching cameras via a touchscreen multi-viewer, and creating illustrated replay clips. One operator can handle several tasks, or operators dedicated to a single function can all log in from various locations and collaborate. Besides offering greater flexibility in the physical location of the production crew, cloud native toolsets such as Chyron LIVE also offer scalability.
“Cloud plays an important role in virtual production,” said Bettencourt. “In addition to several deployment options for many of the products in our portfolio, Chyron now offers cloud native production tools that allow a broadcaster or content creator to cover more events at any given time. It also allows them to experiment and try out new content or cover special occasions without investing in an entirely new additional control room and rack room.”
Grass Valley (Booth C2408) will highlight its Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP). As the name implies, AMPP’s cloud-native applications are architected from the ground up to run in a public cloud. They allow for accessibility and scalability and enable developers to continue to deliver new services more quickly and easily. Cloud-native systems are based on continuous integration, orchestrators, and container engines. Ultimately, however, it's about how applications are created and deployed.
This scalable SaaS platform of agile management tools, cloud-based elastic platform services and intelligent media technologies is made up of a series of microservices that are accessed as software modules to facilitates tasks like encoding and transcoding, media management, content creation and file distribution to TV, OTT and social media.
Grass Valley will spotlight its MPP cloud production and playout environment with support for NDI video-over-IP technology.
One of those modules, GV Playout X, gives users the cost-effective flexibility to spin up or spin down channels as needed while only paying for the services they use. It simplifies the transition to cloud-enhanced workflows from existing playout systems. AMPP also features support for NDI video-over-IP technology.
With native integration of NDI into the AMPP infrastructure, it is now possible to route an almost unlimited number of signals anywhere in the world. The integration means AMPP provides support for full graph-based signal flow manipulation, including provision for signal telemetry, routing, multi-viewers, and remote callers.
Ross Video will highlight Cloud collaboration tools like Ross Video’s Inception Cloud (in Booth N2201), which is used to create scripts, running order, and production cues for Broadcast shows. This can be connected to the company’s Streamline Cloud Production Asset Management system.
Attendees will also see the Ross Interstellar Streaming Gateway, a 1RU hardware solution that provides connectivity between SDI and WebRTC transport streams. This facilitates remote contribution and collaboration. Supporting 720i, 1080i and 1080p, the Streaming Gateway can receive and decode four WebRTC streams, sending these out over SDI and then receiving and distributing one incoming SDI stream to the four contributors. The hardware can manage up to sixteen audio channels per stream and supports the OPUS and H.264 codecs.
“There are a growing number of service providers that host Ross production solutions in their data centers and provide production services to their clients,” said Jeff Moore, Executive Vice-President, Chief Marketing Officer at Ross Video.
Dell Technologies (Booth N2259) Dell EMC ECS is an enterprise-grade object storage platform that solves data challenges by empowering organizations to use cloud storage to flexibly capture, store, protect and manage unstructured data at public cloud-like scale. Deployable as a turnkey appliance or in a software-defined model, ECS delivers AWS S3 storage compatibility on a globally distributed architecture that helps media organizations support enterprise workloads such as cloud-native, archive, IoT, AI, and big data analytics applications at scale.
In the booth will be the Dell ECS EX5000 server, packing 11.2PB per rack (16TB disk drives per node), in single and dual node configurations with hot-pluggable drives.
Dell’s line of storage servers help improve storage efficiency via reduced metadata overhead per object, which increases usable capacity and delivers greater cost savings.
The Dell ECS series is an enterprise-grade, cloud-scale, object storage platform. With ECS, any organization can deliver scalable public cloud services with the reliability and control of a private-cloud infrastructure. ECS provides comprehensive protocol support for unstructured—object and file—workloads on a single modern storage platform.
Using ECS, media organizations can manage globally distributed storage infrastructure under a single control interface with anywhere access to content. ECS features a flexible software-defined architecture that is layered to promote limitless scalability. Each layer is completely abstracted and independently scalable with high availability and no single points of failure. ECS also comes in a fully integrated turnkey appliance that bundles software and Dell PowerEdge servers into an easily deployed object system.
Over at booth (W2775), Imagine Communications will highlight its Aviator cloud-native platform that enables media companies to plan, make and monetize premium-quality, ad-supported linear and connected TV (CTV) content from a single, unified interface. It will also showcase ground-to-cloud routing and multisite deployments, including multiple AWS regions in the cloud.
As a premium AWS partner Imagine is also showcasing cloud playout in the end-to-end cloud environment on the AWS booth (W1701). Visitors will see the Aviator platform delivering cloud playout, ready for OTT delivery and monetization.
At Imagine’s booth within the AWS Village (W2051I), the company will show how to monetize FAST channels and addressable linear ads with its recently launched SureFire video ad server and GamePlan dynamic ad placement engine and yield optimizer.
“There is continued and growing focus on the public cloud for live production and linear playout applications,” said Andy Warman, Sr. Vice President of Product, Imagine Communications. “Since live production tends to fit an occasional-use model using cloud resources, it can be a cost-effective solution—avoiding many capital expenditures, while still enabling great production values. Linear playout continues to grow in popularity as well, with the focus tending to be mainly on FAST channels, disaster recovery, and occasional-use solutions.”
Imagine will also announce a partnership with Vizrt, to integrate the Viz Vectar Plus cloud live production solution with Imagine’s Aviator Make TV cloud playout solution.
Aviator brings together scheduling, rights management, playout, live events, VOD and more under the control of a single cloud-based platform.
The partnership Vizrt brings dynamic live production and playout in the cloud together in a well-orchestrated centralized solution. Enabling live production workflows for sports, news, and live events to feed downstream live linear workflows, it combines the dynamic and fluid nature of live production with the content acquisition, playout, branding, master control switching, SCTE decoration and ad insertion tools within Aviator.
In Booth (C4111), Lawo is promoting “Elasticity” as a concept for how it is developing and implementing new cloud-native products. It’s all about ensuring the efficient use of computing resources, maintaining system performance, enhancing sustainability, and improving cost effectiveness. The company will show its HOME management platform for IP based media infrastructures running on the AWS Cloud. It’s built on a cloud-ready microservices architecture, enabling users to connect, manage and secure networked production setups from the ground up.
At last year’s NAB Lawo showed its HOME IP infrastructure management platform running live on AWS, remotely controlling video and audio gear in Lawo’s UK offices via user interfaces on the show floor.
It also provides centralized access and control for all Lawo gear within a setup and helps address the requirements of modern IP infrastructures, including automated discovery and registration of devices, connection management, flow control, software & firmware management, scalability and security.
“In today’s IP project implementations, the physical build and cabling is only half of the way,” said Axel Kern, Lawo’s Senior Product Manager Media Infrastructure Control. “The other half consists of configuration. HOME significantly increases efficiency in setting up IP system installs.
“Broadcasters and service providers are faced with constantly changing production demands, and setups need to adapt, no matter if on-premise or off-premise, local or remote, or even cloud,” he said. “This management platform provides the architecture to scale for agile business requirements.”
Kern added that its HOME platform is based on open standards such as ST2110, NMOS, IEEE802.1x and RADIUS and follows LUX, Lawo’s unified experience design principles, which provide a consistent workflow across all Lawo IP products.
What The Cloud Is Really All About
Deploying a fully elastic infrastructure is what moving to the cloud is all about. Cloud-based playout, for example, provides the ultimate agility to create new TV channels and playout streams in a matter of minutes, without building any specific infrastructure and with a configuration that suits your exact needs. And because this new generation of products and systems are being built as cloud-first solutions, it allows users to make optimal use of resources which ultimately guarantees the lowest cost of ownership.
“Many organizations are relying on the cloud to store content, share resources, and allow users to connect to systems anywhere where there is a reasonable internet connection,” said Imagine’s Warman. “This type of flexibility—coupled with scaling back on-prem facilities and allowing ongoing remote work—makes the cloud an ideal solution. The number and variety of broadcast-oriented solutions that are available in the cloud also keep growing, so there are more options available to solve a growing range of needs.”
Perhaps the best part about cloud-native technologies is that they're easy to modify and easily connect to cloud services to extend capabilities without a lot of coding. For large broadcasters and media companies, cloud production and IT service deployments that streamline operations isn't “the future,” it's happening now.
Other articles in this NAB 2023 'Show Focus' series:
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